Sunday night wrap-up: Roethlisberger keeps it going

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These are not the Steelers you’re used to.

But it’s still the same Ben Roethlisberger, which means they’re always going to have a chance.

With a system, he’s still coming to grips with, a supposed lack of running game and lack of protection, and too many balls on the ground, the Steelers quarterback was undeterred, leading his team to a 24-17 win over the Bengals.

Roethlisberger finished 27-of-37 for 278 yards and a touchdown. (Watch highlights here.)

Those numbers would have been a lot better if not for some problems by his teammates (keep reading), but they were still enough.

You can tell Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley are still learning to dance together. Toes are still being stepped on, between getting the steps just right often enough.

He can still move the pocket to buy time, and he can still gun the ball (as he proved on his touchdown to Heath Miller just before halftime).

But all told, his is a game that is generally greater than the sum of its parts. And for a team in a bit of a transition, that’s something they need to count on.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. If the Steelers have been good at anything over the years, it’s been replacing guys well, and at just the right times.

But there are certain guys they have a hard time doing without.

Without safety Troy Polamalu, their defense lacks any kind of dynamic element. Outside linebacker James Harrison is back in body, but doesn’t appear to be making much of an impact. And their line borders on solid, but can’t change a game.

Where they’ve excelled at filling gaps is on the offensive line. While their blocking has been suspect in the past, they were playing without a pair of starters (inactive center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert) and kept it going. They protected well, and paved the way for more than enough running, even without their top two running backs (inactives Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman).

2. Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace should immediately ask for the contract offer the team made this offseason, take it, and use the proceeds to by some of the Chargers’ (alleged) stickum.

And then he should pass it around.

Wallace was hardly the only ball-dropper for the Steelers, only the most egregious. You can only get so mad at Baron Batch (who gets few opportunities) or Larry Foote (because he’s a linebacker).

But Wallace wants to get rich for catching passes, so actually catching them would be a nice start.

3. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins is not a household name, even though he can get in your kitchen in a hurry.

If he played in more prime time games, he would be better known, however.

The son of former Dolphins and Saints safety Gene Atkins is making his own name, showing the kind of strength to push the pocket in addition to his quickness. His 7.5 sacks last year tied for the league lead among interior linemen, and he’s nearly past that already this year (7.0).

4. The Bengals under Marvin Lewis are typically very sound.

There’s not a lot of flash about them (though you could make a case wide receiver A.J. Green was the best player in the building), but the things they do they do efficiently.

They went out and signed a running back whose claim to fame was not fumbling, and while he finally put the ball on the ground this year, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a good fit. As is quarterback Andy Dalton. Not special, but effective.

Given the self-imposed constraints they’re under (i.e. their lack of scouting resources) It’s not hard to be sound and the Bengals at the same time, but the even keel they play with is a credit to Lewis.

5. That said, Lewis still doesn’t seem to understand when to challenge and when not to. It’s an unusual blind spot for a coach who is good at so many parts of the game.

He burns way too many timeouts on things that might gain him negligible amounts.

He’s not the only coach with that problem, but it’s a persistent issue for a coach who is good at so many of the larger aspects of the game.

49 responses to “Sunday night wrap-up: Roethlisberger keeps it going

  1. Steeler defense still too old and slow? Bout 100 yards allowed after the first drive and held one of the best WRs in the game to 1 catch.

  2. It’s sad that when the Bengals seem to be the better team and at home they just can’t finish it. I mean c’mon the Steelers D isn’t as stout as it once was, but they seems to have the Bengals number when it comes down to it.

  3. When does Maualuga get benched or cut? That 20 yd pass to Miller he got burned on late in the 4th was embarrassing. And Gruden still has a lot to prove after those 2 straight dumb runs he called with roughly 4 min to go.

    It’s always something with this darn team! The Lewis challenge was icing on the crap cake we just ate. ugh!!

  4. The Bengals actually made our 4th quarter defense look like one that’s used to shutting down opponents in crunch time. That’s pretty impressive.

  5. “Given the self-imposed constraints they’re under (i.e. their lack of scouting resources) It’s not hard to be sound and the Bengals at the same time, but the even keel they play with is a credit to Lewis.”

    Please, it’s time to stop giving Lewis a pass because of the supposed scouting issues with the Bengals. The Bengals have a talented roster with some excellent recent drafts, and have enough scouting to find Hawkins in the Canadian league. They’ve were also on the right side of some very one-sided trades for Leonard and Nelson. There’s enough talent on the roster to be contending … it’s long since time to stop blaming the scouting and send some coaches packing (starting with the head man).

  6. Ah gonna be a nice week, steelers win + a ravens blowout loss means that ravenator will once again bury his head in shame for the week and not troll steelers articles

  7. Watching Wallace tonight made me wonder what’s up with Limas Sweed. If we wanted a nice, tall guy with great route-running ability who couldn’t catch, he’d have been less money and less mouth. In Wallace’s shoes, I’d be at least a little embarrassed about the prima-donna act, under the circumstances.

    If I were Roethlisberger, I’d watch the game tapes before criticizing Haley again. Those sustained drives were classic; that’s how you wear down a defense. The gameplan didn’t fail. But Wallace did by dropping footballs as though they were hot potatoes. And Ben did some damage himself by throwing into tightly woven double coverage for an INT.

    Either I’ve been underestimating Willie Colon, or his position change has given him new life, and the corners looked good. But I’m worried that Harrison is recovering very slowly–and Polamalu slower still. Nice to see Sanders snap back so fast, though 😉

  8. “Afc is wide open”

    Yup. Only three teams with a winning record, Texans, Ravens and Patriots. The AFC is just bad this year. Houston looks to be the best but they got killed by Green Bay a week ago and beating the Ravens doesn’t mean that much anymore. Baltimore’s defense is bad. Their offense is just okay. The Pats are going through the motions right now as well. They look good at times and awful at others.

    Any team that gets into the playoffs in the AFC has a really good chance of getting to New Orleans.

  9. “But Wallace wants to get rich for catching passes, so actually catching them would be a nice start.”


    Steeler fans have been saying for nearly a year that Antonio Brown is the much more valuable, productive receiver of the two.

    But, in the offseason Jerry Jones or someone like that is sure to give Wallace his $100 million.

    What I like is the way Sanders is coming on, now that his foot injuries appear to be in his past. In the offseason, he should be the receiver that gets a contract extension.

  10. The last challenge wasn’t so bad, because he sort of had to take the chance. It was the first one on a 2 yard catch that was really stupid. By the way, I wouldn’t give Dwyer too much credit. He was fine and all, but it was Colon and Legursky who opened those holes with some very nice blocking. Look at all of the good runs. They were all to the left. The only ones to the right were when Colon pulled. Those two and Heath Miller get the game ball in my opinion. Heath isn’t on par with Gronk offensively, but I don’t think he is far off as far as importance. Love love love Heath Miller.

  11. 303bengalguy says:

    “When does Maualuga get benched or cut? That 20 yd pass to Miller he got burned on late in the 4th.”

    You mean Maualuga played tonight? Never heard his name mentioned once. The guy was a bust two years ago.

  12. Great win, but I gotta say, the Wallace act should be done after this year. Move on.

    Also, I don’t know jack about facebook, so can someone help me make a Sign Flacco 10YR page?

  13. Maybe the Bengals should actually utilize the best young downfield reciever in the game today instead of running hitch routes for 60 minutes. The Bengals lack of playmaking from everyone else besides Green is killing them. The blueprint is out there, stop A.J. Green, stop the Bengals. Stop the trucks, stop Tommy Boy!

  14. Steelers are a work in progress, but trending in the right direction. All three losses off 4th quarter leads. It’s a very big “IF,” but watch out if they hit 10 wins, and get Polmalu, Mendenhal, Pouncy, Gilbert, and DeCastro all back at the same time. Everyone trashing AFC, but I think it’s great that it’s so wide open.

  15. The thing a lot of football experts miss is the lack of tipped passes in the Steelers defensive arsenal that made opposing QBs too comfortable. Finally some passes get tipped and you saw the results.

    Ben was great outside the two blunders he made for turnovers. But I dont know why they keep using AB on the sideline throws and Wallace on eveyrthing else. AB should have been targeted more and if Ben elected to go deep down the sideline, it should have been MW even if MW probably drops it.

    MIKE WALLACE just cost himself at least $10M or so with today’s performance.

  16. Since I am a Steelers fan this will sound bias, but if Marvin Lewi was the coach of the Steelers I would have wanted him gone a long time ago. He doesnt make anyone play better, still makes horrible decisions, and his game plans dont seem to hvae much to them. He has had alot of talent there, but he doesnt seem to get the maximum out of his players. I dont mind he is there because we get to play the Bengals twice a year so if he stays im cool with that, but I dont see how bengals fans dont picket the damn games or something lol … Some coaches are just better assistant’s than head coach coaches and I think this is the case with Marvin.. Till then the bengals will continue to be average and once in awhile throw a playoff team together.

  17. Could you imagine how good Roethlisberger would be if he actually played with a decent line? Could you imagine him on the patriots or with a line like what p. manning had in IND?????

  18. The Bengals have consistently been a team that is way too conservative and has no killer instinct. They can’t finish off games or step up vs quality teams, calling two run plays to start off a drive in the final four minutes is just icing on the cake.

  19. Gotta wonder what’s up with Wallace. It’s about time for him to show the rest of us what he thinks he’s worth. I was a fan of his last season, but after his holdout and now it’s this far into the season, he’s not showing he’s worth more than what he’s getting. O line needs to get it together if Haley’s offensive plans are going to work. Just glad defenses seem to forget about Heath Miller. He’s the real rock on this team!

  20. Another big game, another big loss for the Bengals.

    Seriously, when was the last time this team beat the Ravens or the Steelers?

    The coaching stinks and the QB is average with a noodle arm.

    105 yards on a banged up Steelers Defense is a joke.

    Andy Dalton
    14/28, 105 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

  21. I agree with you eezyxyz, being a long time fan of the Bengals. Yeah I am a glutten for punishment. I think Marvin has taken the team as far as he can take them. They are undisciplined and seem to find the wrong times to laugh and joke. For example, the camera found Domata Peko on the bench behind 24-17 and he’s giving a thumbs up and laughing. Ok Domata what’s so darn funny about being handed your A** by a depleted Steelers team? Summation, Bengals are LOSERS and will always be LOSERS!

  22. Ho hum just another win. Dont look now, but here comes the class of the afcn to take over. Ratbirds are fading. Steelers are ascending. What a beautiful sunday it was.

  23. Great win last night, combined with the Ravens loss. Important division win. Steelers solidly back in the hunt now. This is what happens when you can run the ball and complement a strong passing attack. Great job by the OL, and defense didn’t break either. Wallace needs to hold onto the ball, he dropped some key passes, as he has done a number of times this year.

  24. Say what you want. This game was very lackluster on both sides. I feel like Cleveland could have hung in this game against either team. BUT let’s not forget the one play that had pathetic written all over it: Steelers send Sanders into the huddle. He no sooner reaches the huddle (walking mind you) then falls down with a “cramp” and required medical staff. Why was it so important? Saved Pitt a timeout. Which was the exact purpose of sending him out. Next play? Sanders comes out just fine. Announcers caught it and even said that was cheap. But hey, what can you really expect from the Steelers?

    NFL version of an NBA flop. Stay classy Steelers.

  25. Still puzzled why Ben went deep to AB on that 3rd down rathre than Miller who was wide open and would have had the 1st down and more. That would have kept the drive alive and burned the clock way down and possibly added a FG to ice the game. I guess he wanted to feel “normal” again.

  26. Here’s what shocked me most about the Bengals loss:

    You’d think they didn’t bother to watch Steeler’s D tape and realize how many huge pass plays we’ve given up (not to mention the sheer # of PI calls on Ike Taylor).

    By my count, the only threw deeper then 20 yards twice, and one of those would have been a TD if not for a sensational defensive play by our nickel back.

    So if you want to lay blame on why the Bengals lost this game, it’s that Jay Gruden got way too conservative and when the Bengals were running the ball well, never took a real shot deep with Green. Yeah I know the Steelers were shading Ryan Clark a lot of times, but come on.

    All that being said, Ben continues to own the state of Ohio, and the Bengals have no prayer to win the AFC North if they can’t beat the Ravens and Steelers at home. At 0-3 in the division (as well as 3 AFC losses), they are nearly toast in terms of the playoffs.

  27. ITPST:

    #1 Houston
    #2 Baltimore
    #3 New England
    #4 Denver (win tiebreaker via H2H w against SD)
    #5 San Diego (3-1 in AFC)
    #6 Would you believe MIAMI would be the 2nd WC right now, after they also got absolutely pasted by Houston and others??

    The rest, in order:
    Cincinnati (told you that loss to the Steelers would be devestating)

  28. It’s VERY clear when a team is playing hard… but doesn’t believe they can actually win.

    Bengals are playing with the level of confidence their GM and coaching staff have provided… none!

    Sorry Marv… decent guy, but time to move on.

  29. “4. The Bengals under Marvin Lewis are typically very sound.”

    Are you kidding me? The Bengals are perennial LOSERS, and this year is no different. Marvin Lewis obviously is lacking in the “head coach” department, as is Mike Tomlin. Only difference is that Lewis is just in a bad system. In Tomlin’s case though, he’s just dumb.

  30. texans routed by packers, then they rout the ravens injury riddled def. other than last 2 games have played nothing but cream puffs, by far the most pathetic division in football. speaking of injuries, isn’t it a miracle that johnson daniels and schaub are still standing.

  31. Who cares? He’s still a woman abuser. Quit putting him on a pedestal! Kids should have better role models.

  32. Okay, both the announcer and the writer seem to have misunderstood the challenge. If you listened to the announcement of the official when the challenge was made, he said “Cincinnati is challenging the ruling on the field that the runner was down by contact”. In other words, they claimed that Wallace caught the ball, but fumbled before he was down, which would be a turnover. This was not an unreasonable challenge to make. Indeed, it stopped the clock (which is what they needed the timeout for anyway), and, if successful, would give them the ball.

  33. You’re wrong there Ernie. If the bengals challenge was successful, it would still been the steelers ball and 3rd and 10.

  34. Those receivers drop too many passes.
    Others besides #83 could catch touch down passes.
    Ben R. is a lousy fantasy player. I could care less about the Steelers

  35. Now unlike certain Baltimore QBs, THIS is how the “elite” guy operates. O-line crippled by injuries, defense without Troy Pola, receivers dropping passes left and right, and STILL getting it done. Still carrying the team.

    Ben Roethlisberger — elite, and a true francise quarterback. Obvious to all except fantasy nerds.

  36. ravenator…..43-13
    i bet you want to crawl in a hole and cry. what an embarrasement the ravens have become.

  37. Any normal team would use the Bye week this week to look for a new HC. The Bengals problems start there with unwillingness to change, obstinate about running the ball, even when down.

    Marvin did not have his usual arrogance nor his nervious giggling in the post game interview. He put the defense under the bus, blaming them for the loss. His gameplan for offense doomed the game, not the defense.

  38. Deb says:
    Oct 22, 2012 11:33 AM
    @olcap …

    Tomlin is dumb? Tomlin went to William and Mary. His IQ is probably twice yours and then some.


    Not knowing me, your statement is beyond ridiculous.

    Now who’s dumb?

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